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UC sells off $200 million in coal and oil sands investments

Students at UC Berkeley demonstrated in 2013 for UC divestment from fossil fuel companies. (Fossil Free UC)

Students at UC Berkeley demonstrated in 2013 for UC divestment from fossil fuel companies. (Fossil Free UC)

The UC system has sold off its endowment and pension fund holdings in coal and oil sands companies, a $200-million move that officials said Wednesday was in response to both environmental concerns and rising financial risk in those industries.

UC still has about $10 billion in various types of energy industry investments, about 10% of the $100 billion or so it holds in endowment and pension funds, UC spokeswoman Dianne Klein said. There are no plans to extend the sell-off into oil and natural gas.

The coal and oil sands sell-off was announced Wednesday by UC’s chief investment officer, Jagdeep Bachher, at the meeting of the UC regents’ investment committee. According to a transcript of the meeting, Bachher said that “slowing global demand, an increasingly unfavorable regulatory environment, and a high threat of substitution pose insurmountable challenges to coal mining companies.” And he added that “sustainability issues” also have made it too risky to remain in oil sands businesses.

Continue reading here.

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Climate-smart cities could save the world $22tn, say economists

 Solar roofs in Freiburg, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany show that green building standards could cut electricity use. Photograph: imagebroker/Rex Shutterstock

Solar roofs in Freiburg, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany show that green building standards could cut electricity use. Photograph: imagebroker/Rex Shutterstock

Green buildings and better infrastructure would not only spur economic growth but also cut carbon emissions equal to India’s annual output.

Putting cities on a course of smart growth – with expanded public transit, energy-saving buildings, and better waste management – could save as much as $22tn and avoid the equivalent in carbon pollution of India’s entire annual output of greenhouse gasses, according to leading economists.

The finding upends the notion that it is too expensive to do anything about climate change – or that such efforts would make little real difference. Not true, said the researchers.

Continue reading here.

ACT has done work encouraging renewable energy and engaging decision makers in supporting renewable energy. Though climate change is already here and will continue for some time, transitioning off fossil fuels will make adaptation easier to plan for and implement. Check out our reports on this important area of work here. 

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Sea level rise could be faster, worse than expected: studies

Photo by Pixabay

Photo by Pixabay

More evidence is emerging indicating that climate change may raise sea levels faster and higher than originally thought.

What this means for coastal cities worldwide has been well documented. More than two-dozen large U.S. cities will likely be hit with a flooding crisis by 2050. Climate Central estimates at least 150 million people globally live in areas that could end up totally submerged or persistently ravaged by flooding by 2100.

Not good news for people living in Vancouver, New York City and Miami. Even a rise of half a metre by 2050 could lead to $1 trillion in annual global losses if no efforts are made to adapt, according to a 2013 study published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Continue reading here.

In Canada, over 7 million Canadians live in coastal communities. ACT’s work on sea level rise has primarily been with the Coastal Cities at Risk (CCaR) project, a 5-year multinational research project to document these increased risks facing coastal cities. Learn more about our work with CCaR here.

 

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Renewable energy requirement creates jobs, Berkeley study says

U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell tours a new solar farm in Desert Center, Calif., on Feb. 9 2015. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell tours a new solar farm in Desert Center, Calif., on Feb. 9 2015. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

As lawmakers consider new measures to combat climate change, researchers at UC Berkeley released a study saying stronger renewable energy requirements would lead to new jobs.

California law requires the state to get 33% of its electricity from renewable sources, such as solar and wind, by 2020. A bill by Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) would increase that standard to 50% by 2030.

Because building renewable energy facilities is a temporary gig, the study uses measurements in “job years” to estimate how much work would be created. One “job year” equals enough work to employ somebody full time for a year.

From 2003 to 2014, renewable energy requirements created 52,000 “job years,” the study said. Up to 429,000 additional “job years” would be created if lawmakers approved higher standards.

Continue reading here.

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Trying to follow what is going on in Syria and why? This comic will get you there in 5 minutes.

Screenshot 2015-09-07 16.14.06

“After decades of cruel leadership, the effects of climate change may have been the ultimate unhinging stressor for Syria.”

This is really a must read comic. Understanding the conflict in Syria is important — as is supporting and assisting Syrian refugees.

Read it here.

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Upcoming Event: The Hockey Stick and The Climate Wars, with Dr. Michael Mann

Source: The Guardian

The Centre for Coastal Science and Management at Simon Fraser University is hosting a special talk and discussion by Michael Mann, Distinguished Professor, Meteorology and Director, Earth System Science Center, Pennsylvania State University:

 The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: The Battle Continues

SFU Harbour Centre – Fletcher Challenge Theatre (Room 1900)

September 17, 2015 – 7:00 – 9:00 pm

Building on the findings in his book, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, Dr. Mann will discuss the basics of climate science and reveal the tactics which opponents of climate change use to distort the science and attack the reputations of scientists. He will describe both the hockey stick controversy and the broader context of skepticism in science and contrarians rejecting evidence of human influence on climate.

This event is free, but reserving your seat is recommended. Click here for more information and to reserve your spot. 

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Register Now: Workshop on the Columbia River Treaty

 

CRT workshop poster

The Canadian Water Resources Association, in partnership with Simon Fraser University’s Adaptation to Climate Change Team, invite the public to participate in a one-day workshop on the Columbia River Treaty on October 7th.

The workshop, called “Columbia River Treaty: Past, Present and Future” will be held at the Sonora Centre in the South Okanagan town of Osoyoos, B.C. It will feature expert presentations and panel discussions on social, political, legal and environmental issues related to the treaty, with a special focus on the Okanagan valley as a sub-basin of the Columbia River.

“The Columbia River Treaty was negotiated between the governments of Canada and the U.S. in the 1950s to increase electricity generation and reduce flood risk,” noted Brian Guy, workshop co-chair and Vice President of the Okanagan Water Stewardship Council.

“There is now an opportunity to renegotiate the treaty and bring in many perspectives that were unknown or ignored at the time. This workshop will be a fabulous opportunity for dialogue between experts and the public, and the input provided could contribute to substantial improvements to the treaty.”

Bob Sanford, EPCOR Chair for Water and Climate Security at the United Nations University Institute for Water, added that “The Columbia River Treaty has the opportunity to become the first transboundary water agreement in the world to be effectively reformed so as to create a living blueprint for how people would like to live in the Columbia Basin – and in basins like it – now and in a sustainable future.”

The public is encouraged to come and discuss with presenters from various levels of government, First Nations, and academia about the aging international treaty, and contribute perspectives about how a renewed treaty might be negotiated.

The workshop precedes the Osoyoos Lake Water Science Forum, a 3-day conference hosted by the International Joint Commission, the Okanagan Basin Water Board and the Town of Osoyoos. The Osoyoos Lake Water Science Forum will also take place at the Sonora Centre, beginning in the evening of  October  7th through to October 9th.

Click here for more information and registration on the Columbia River Treaty workshop.

And, click here for information and registration to the Osoyoos Lake Water Science Forum.

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Lecture with Tim Flannery- October 14th

Source: SFU Centre for Dialogue

Source: SFU Centre for Dialogue

Acclaimed climate scientist and author Tim Flannery will be in Vancouver this fall to give a public lecture.

Tickets are now on sale for this event at the Vancouver Playhouse, October 14th at 7 pm.  Tim is the author of “The Weather Makers” and his newest release, “Atmosphere of Hope”.  He has been awarded the 2015/16 Jack P. Blaney Award for Dialogue by the SFU Centre for Dialogue, of which ACT Executive Director Deborah Harford is also a Climate Solutions Fellow.

Tim will be on stage with Andrea Reimer and Ross Beaty in an evening entitled ‘Reality Check: Climate Change, the Resource Economy and the Road to Paris’.

Until September 7th, tickets are 25% off. Click here to buy your ticket now! 

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Webinar Series: Creating a Blue Dialogue

blue dialogueOn September 16th, the Water Sustainability Project (WSP) is hosting the first webinar in its 2015/2016 Creating a Blue Dialogue webinar series.

Register now!

 

 

WHAT: Evolution in Transboundary Watershed Governance: Lessons from the Mackenzie Basin
DATE: Wednesday, September 16th, 2015
TIME: 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. PT (12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET)

On March 18, 2015, the Governments of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) and Alberta signed an historic transboundary water agreement. In this webinar, speakers Hon. J. Michael Miltenberger (Minister, Environment and Natural Resources, GNWT) and Merrell-Ann Phare (Chief Negotiator, NWT-Alberta Bilateral Water Management Agreement) will share the story behind the development and negotiation of the transboundary water agreement “Mackenzie River Basin: NWT-Alberta Bilateral Water Management Agreement.”

Although grounded in the Mackenzie Basin context, this webinar will offer insight and value for communities across the country. The speakers will explain what makes the agreement innovative in Canada and the world, discuss how the agreement is connected to broader critical water and energy policy issues in Canada, and explain why they think similar transboundary agreements are critical to the successful governance of watersheds in Canada.

This webinar is the first instalment in the 2015/2016 Creating a Blue Dialogue webinar series. It will build on the 2014/2015 season and the January 2014 report “A Blueprint for Watershed Governance in British Columbia,” which focused on nine “winning conditions” needed to move towards a more sophisticated approach to watershed governance.

**SPACE IS LIMITED** Register now!

**If you are in Victoria, B.C., we will be hosting a live viewing of the September 16th webinar at the Centre for Global Studies on the University of Victoria campus. Contact Rosie Simms at water@polisproject.org to RSVP to the live viewing.**

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Climate change has the Earth in hot water

ocean_fullsize

Source: Forbes, NOAA

Water is the biggest thermal sink on Earth, and we better be able to stand the heat.

In this article, environmental scientist James Conca points out that water holds 90% of the heat from global warming. This means that rising water temperatures are even more important for the future of our planet than rising air temperatures. Hotter waters can mean problems for fish which need specific climates to live in, as well as lower snowpack levels leading to more droughts. Read more of the article here. 

ACT has worked with decision makers across the country on strategies for water governance. Our findings include the need for a new water ethic, whereby we will value and respect water as a fundamental building block of life on this planet. We also have work forthcoming on water management recommendations for coastal communities who will see more freshwater and saltwater interactions as climate change progresses. Read more of our work on water governance here.

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Exciting news: the CMA divests from fossil fuels

web-na-cma-fuels-0826

Source: The Globe and Mail

The Canadian Medical Association has announced it will divest from its holdings in fossil fuel companies.

Doctors hope that this move will bring attention to the various health risks posed by fossil fuel extraction and use. The CMA will instead invest its $1.8-million holdings in renewable energy companies.

Canada’s doctors are following those in Britain and Australia who have also divested from fossil fuels. This move also follows the recent divestment campaigns of various university campuses, church organizations, and other groups across North America.

Read the full article here. 

ACT has done work encouraging renewable energy and engaging decision makers in supporting renewable energy. Though climate change is already here and will continue for some time, transitioning off fossil fuels will make adaptation easier to plan for and implement. Check out our reports on this important area of work here. 

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The hungry dystopia of climate change

An Indian farmer walks with his hungry cow through a parched paddy field in Agartala, India, 2005.    REUTERS/Jayanta Dey

An Indian farmer walks with his hungry cow through a parched paddy field in Agartala, India, 2005. REUTERS/Jayanta Dey

It’s the year 2026. A poor monsoon season in India leads to low wheat output, which is followed by a surprise thaw and refreeze that flattens crops in the Black Sea region, and a bad Chinese wheat harvest. Russia and some other producers impose export restrictions to conserve food. Next, drought strikes the U.S., and things suddenly aren’t looking good for soy and corn, either. Then, because nothing can possibly go right, the second monsoon season fails in India. Panic ensues and households in some countries start hoarding rice! Importers start bidding up for larger orders of grains! There are more export taxes and restrictions and the cost of food increases!

That’s the worst-case scenario laid out by a new report from a U.S.-U.K. task force on food security. Spoiler alert: It doesn’t include peace, sunshine, and an end to world hunger.

Thanks to climate change, farmers are now contending with more unexpected weather than usual in recent years. Farmers have always been subject to the whims of nature, but eaters in the developed world haven’t had to worry too much about their problems: For every crop failure there was someone else with a bumper harvest. That may be about to change.

Continue reading here.

To learn more about climate adaptation, biodiversity, crops and food supply, see the following ACT reports:

Biodiversity Reports

Crops & Food Supply

 

 

 

 

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Excerpt from Tim Flannery’s new book, “Atmosphere of Hope”

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Source: The Guardian
Globe Centred On Asia And Oceania, True Colour Satellite Image Photograph: Planet Observer/Getty Images/Universal Images Group

The Guardian has an excerpt from acclaimed climate author Tim Flannery’s new book, “Atmosphere of Hope: Searching for Solutions to the Climate Crisis”.

In it, Flannery shows how a changing climate in Australia and around the world will have impacts beyond higher temperatures: threats to human health, more extreme bushfires, degrading nutritional value of crops, and more mental illnesses induced by stress are some of the topics he touches on.

Read the full article here. 

Tim Flannery is the recipient of the 2015/2016 Jack P. Blaney Award for Dialogue at SFU. This award provides an opportunity to celebrate the significant role Professor Flannery’s work has had in advancing the global conversation around the critical issue of climate change.  ACT Executive Director Deborah Harford also looks forward to co-hosting him as one of the Climate Solutions Fellows at the SFU Centre for Dialogue.

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Feeding Nine Billion Video 5: Local Food Systems by Dr. Evan Fraser

Screenshot 2015-08-25 20.39.39By 2050 there will be 9 billion people on the planet – but will there be enough food for everyone? Food security expert Dr Evan Fraser guides you through a whiteboard presentation of his solution to the Global Food Crisis focusing in this video on the role of the local food system.

Brought to you by  http://www.feedingninebillion.com

 

 

To learn more about climate adaptation, biodiversity, crops and food supply, see the following ACT reports:

Biodiversity Reports

Crops & Food Supply

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13 Mind-Blowing Images of Landfills Around the World Show the True Cost of Our Waste

Every year, the world produces more than two billion tons of waste — enough to fill a fleet of trash trucks to circle the world 24 times, according to sustainability project the World Counts. The World Bank estimates the yearly global cost of dealing with waste is more than $200 billion and predicts annual waste will exceed 11 million tons per day by 2100 if current trends continue.

But where does it all go? Whether it’s an island built as a landfill or the outskirts of historic monuments, the world’s waste is piling up with no end in sight. These images offer an acute reminder of the seriousness of waste management and the desperate need to address it. It’s simply not sustainable.

maldives

Thilafushi is an artificial island created in the Maldives, a few miles off the coast of capital city Malé, to be used as a landfill. Smoke billows from Thilafushi as trash is burned in the background, with the Maldivian capital, Malé, in the foreground.

Click here to for more images.

 

 

 

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Municipalities need to plan for climate change

B.C. and the Prairies have been scorched by wildfires this year. Here, a fire tears through a peninsula jutting out onto Lac La Ronge, Sask., in July. (Submitted by Scott Knudsen, Northscape Photography )

A wildfire near Lac La Ronge, SK in July. Source: CBC. Submitted by Scott Knudsen, Northscape Photography

In a new article from the CBC, an Environment Canada climatologist says that municipalities need to plan better for long-term impacts of climate change.

Municipal infrastructure takes a hit from more extreme and frequent weather events as well as from “weather whiplash”- when weather changes drastically from one season to the next. Effects from this are exacerbated when municipalities are still building infrastructure based on decades-old weather patterns.

In turn, municipalities point to the need for better options for funding and financing infrastructure and upgrades. ACT’s recent report on financing urban infrastructure deals with this exact question by providing a thorough analysis of different options municipalities can use to fund or finance climate-resilient infrastructure. Read the full report here. 

Check out the rest of the CBC article here. 

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